Sunday, October 31, 2010

Marriage 301, Lecture 375: In which I get to say "I told you so" to SH and how sweet it is to have your shoes applauded at a restaurant

Remember the teal leopard print shoes with the tangerine ribbon? The ones in the photo above? The shoes that have replaced The Red Shoes as my favorites? That I got at the Divine Consign sale?

Let's have a little moment of silence while we look at these shoes and their complete awesomeness. Regardez les chaussures turquoise imprimé léopard!

These shoes stopped traffic last night.


Stopped traffic.

Last night, SH and I went out to eat, which we don't do that often because 1. we are really good cooks and have a deep freezer full of meat and 2. I am a cheapskate.

But I wanted an excuse to wear the teal leopard print shoes. Wouldn't you?

I wore them with a brown skirt, cream ruffled blouse and a tangerine silk/wool shawl. The tangerine tied it all together, you see. Plus it was cold last night and I needed the extra warmth.

At the restaurant, I crossed my legs so that my foot (and the shoe) showed at the side of the table.

As we were waiting for dessert, my efforts paid off. The owner of the restaurant walked by our table. Looked down. Stopped. Gasped. Said, "Your shoes are gorgeous!"

I beamed. "Thanks!"

The waiter next to her turned to look.

"Oh yes!" he exclaimed. "Those are fab!"

I turned to SH. "I told you so!"

The owner looked puzzled.

I explained. "He didn't understand why I like these shoes so much and why I had to get them."

The owner shook her head. "They are O. M. G.!"

We were gathering attention. Which I hate. Ha.

The women at the table behind me said, "Let us see!"

I showed them the shoes and they twittered approvingly. "He didn't think I should have bought them if I didn't already have something to wear with them!"

They glared at SH.

People behind SH were craning to see, so I took one shoe off and held it up.

"Brava!" mouthed one man as he clapped lightly.

"I am vindicated and validated," I told SH.

He admitted that maybe I was right - that the shoes are extraordinary. The owner smiled approvingly at me as she walked away.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

I fear for our country part 2

Shirley often makes the little old lady "Where are my teef?" face, but I have no photos of such. Hence the "Is this for cats?" photo instead.

The Stupid Woman* at poll worker training had a Stupid Man with her. His response, during roll call (why? why? why call 150 names at the end of a meeting rather than having people sign in?), after his wife, Stupid Woman, had been called and she had answered, "Here," and when his name was called next for indeed they were listed together, was


He didn't answer.

The clerk called his name again, looking at Stupid Woman and Stupid Man, thinking, probably, that Stupid Woman had answered and that the man sitting next to her might be Stupid Man and why wasn't he responding?

Stupid Woman said, "He's here!" and nudged Stupid Man.

"Why didn't you say anything?" she hissed at him.

"Because they said only one per family!" he answered.


The clerk stared at him. I stared at him. (I had abandoned all subtlety by this point, plus I wanted to make sure I heard correctly. I was wearing an earplug. I'll explain.) Was he referring to an earlier discussion that one checking account per family was fine for a married couple both working at the polls? Who knows? Eye-rolling stupid.

Now you want to know why I was wearing an earplug.

I was sitting next to a little old lady who kept smacking her gums. It was that "Where are my teef?" smacking, except she was wearing her teeth, bless her heart.

She kept smacking and smacking and smacking and I wanted to smack her because that wet smacking chewing sound grosses me out almost as much as taking a shower in a tub that has not been cleaned since the previous bather if that bather is not someone in my family or a close friend.

I tried turning my head away from Smacking Old Lady, but I could still hear her. I casually covered my right ear with my hand. I could still hear her plus my arm, which is still suffering from tennis elbow, which you can get even if and probably because you are a really bad tennis player, started to hurt.

I reached into my purse and pulled out an earplug.

Of course I always travel with earplugs. Don't you? What if you are on a plane and there is a crying baby? There is always a crying baby on my plane. Nothing you can do about it - their ears hurt and they cry and that's that - but I can try to muffle the noise. I also carry drugs and a Swiss army knife. And sunblock. A handkerchief. Safety pins. Pens. But I will not lend you my pen at the airport. You didn't know you would have to complete the customs/immigration form? Too bad. You're a grownup. Carry your own pen. I am not your pen supplier.

I put the earplug in my right ear and turned away from smacking lady. You would think that it would have been harder to hear the Stupid Questions from Stupid Woman and Stupid Man - but I still caught them all and wrote them down so I could share the pain with you.

* Please know that I do not use the word "stupid" lightly, but the evidence shows that this woman and her husband fit the bill. I also think stupid people have the right to vote - everyone deserves representation in our government. Sometimes I think stupid is over-represented, but that is a topic for a political blog, which this is not.

Friday, October 29, 2010

I fear for our country

SH worries about the voters. I worry about the poll workers.

I went to poll worker training last night. One woman asked questions that got stupider and stupider, to the point that I thought the city clerk would finally say, "You are too dumb to vote, much less work at the voting place." Alas, that did not happen.

Her first question was the scariest. Seriously? You have been a poll worker before (she did not stay for the new poll worker training, which followed the general meeting of all poll workers) and you did not know the answer to this question?

Stupid woman [as clerk is explaining how to register voters - we have same-day registration in Wisconsin]: How do I register someone who's Albanian?

Clerk: What?

SW: You know - with a visa?

Clerk: You mean someone who is not a US citizen?

SW: Yes. [Heads around the room swivel to look at the stupid woman.]

Clerk [with far more patience than I would have had]: Non-US citizens can't vote.

SW: Oh!

In case the previous scenario wasn't clear, the woman was asking how to register people who are not US citizens to vote. As in, she thought that this would be an issue she would face and wanted to know how to solve it. As in, had she not asked the question and just assumed how to do things, she would have gladly registered any foreign national with a Wisconsin driver's license who was willing to perjure herself on the registration form.

On to her even stupider questions.

SW [after the clerk just explained what to do with someone whose name has changed since she last registered, such as someone who has married]: What do we do if someone has married and there has been a name change, not that there should be?

Because a meeting with 150 poll workers is the best place to discuss whether women should change their names upon marrying?

SW [as the clerk is telling us we need to check the felon list for the registering voter's name because of course felons can't vote]: Can sex offenders vote?

Clerk [after a long pause during which she was undoubtedly thinking, "Am I speaking Polish and don't know it? Has every word I said not been understood by these English-speaking people?"]: If the person is on the felon list, he can't vote. If he is not on the felon list, he can vote.

SW: Last year I was ill and didn't get my taxes in.

Clerk: What?

SW: I filed my taxes late.

Clerk [longer pause as she considered proposing an "must be smarter than a fencepost" requirement for voting]: That has nothing to do with voting.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Bus stop lessons

What I learned in the three minutes I waited to cross the street from the lady who was waiting for the bus:

1. She couldn't drive because she had water on her foot and can't feel her feet but she'll be back at work on Dec 12
2. Her favorite restaurant is the Chinese place down the block
3. But she takes her kids to Red Lobster, her other favorite, every other month
4. She works OT and cleans houses on the side because she loves money
5. And because her kids are in private school because they weren't learning anything in public school
6. Her cousin is a lawyer in Texas
7. She never finished college because she has a learning disability but she's going back in January
8. She was visiting her aunt at the nursing home on the corner because the aunt had surgery recently
9. Her brother's recently ex-wife lives ten blocks from the bus stop
10. But she hasn't been to visit because she hasn't been invited.
11. She doesn't just show up at someone's house without being invited because she's Not Like That
12. If you invite her, she will go. But she will not just show up.
13. She'll be at the Chinese place next Monday at noon and if I show up, she'll treat me to lunch.

Don't hate me because I have good eyebrows

My sister has naturally curly hair that she BLOWS STRAIGHT. Women pay hundreds of dollars to get what she has naturally.

I don't want to make all of y'all jealous or anything, but a few weeks ago when my book club friends and I went to the beauty school to get our feet pedicured and our eyebrows waxed (fortunately, Julie has recovered just fine from that little miscalculation her student waxer made), the beauty school teacher, when summoned by my student stylist, said I had perfect eyebrows.

Oh yes.


The student had asked the teacher exactly what she was supposed to wax off my face as my eyebrows were already perfect and the teacher was as puzzled as the student because I Have Perfect Eyebrows.

I'd always been secretly a little bit proud of my eyebrows, but now I knew that beauty professionals validated my opinion and let me tell you, there was no dealing with me and my ego on the ride home.

Before you start hating on me, though, let me tell you what I am considering spending $100 on because it is not perfect:

My hair.

My hair used to be perfect - see photos above of the four year old Class Factotum rocking a bikini. Naturally blonde, silky, smooth hair.

What do I have now? If not for Clairol #24 Clove, I would have drab, mousy, graying hair. Thanks to science's diligent efforts that allow us to reclaim hair and fool men into thinking we are still fertile, I have rich brown hair. Except at the roots around my hairline, of course. Nothing I can do about that but be eternally vigilant, but eternal vigilance is the price of hair freedom.

What I don't have is silky, smooth hair.

And I thought there was no way to reclaim that hair. Sure, I can use my straight iron to smooth it, but there is only so much cooking you can do of your hair before it is destroyed.

Then I heard about the Brazilian Blowout and no, it's not what you think. Or what I thought.

It is a hair treatment that makes your hair smooth and silky.

My friend Marta had it and made a little movie about the experience. My friend Ilene had it.

I want it.

It costs $150. Or $100, as my hairstylist's colleague said she would charge me because I don't have long hair.

Which I was thinking, OK, that's not sooo much money, especially if I accept the pay for being a poll worker, although I was planning not to cash the check because seriously? it is a privilege to live in a country where we run the government and I consider it an honor to work at the polls. I didn't even know it was a paid position. Plus it's too much trouble to deal with the tax implications and it's not like I don't have the time available.

But. I could take that $47.50, $23 after taxes, and apply that to a blowout.

Except the cost doesn't end with the blowout. Once it's done, you have to use special shampoo. Which is not the special shampoo I already use to keep the Clairol #24 Clove from fading too quickly. It's probably expensive shampoo.

How much is good hair worth?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Marriage 301, Lecture 220: You can run, but you can't hide

Me: But I know sort of where the cookies are.

SH: How? You went into the bathroom while I got them out.

Me: Duh. Logic. I had already looked in the easy places before I asked you to get one for me.

SH: You looked for them?

Me: Of course! I only asked you as a last resort! They're up high, higher than I can see, but you don't need the stool to get to them.

SH: How do you know that?

Me: Because when you were getting them out, you were talking to me and your voice was tight because your head was tilted back.

SH: Um.

Me: Am I right?

SH: Maybe.

Me: But they are not so high that you had to get the stool out.

SH: If you find them, you can't eat mine [the ones without nuts].

Me: I won't. I don't like them that way. I like the nuts. Otherwise, they're too sweet.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Marriage 301, Lecture 650: Protecting me from myself

Me: Where did you hide the cookies?

SH: I can't tell you! You're the one who wanted me to hide them from you!

Me: Now I want you to tell me where they are.

SH: I can't do that.

Me: Then would you get one for me?

SH: What's the point of hiding them if I am just going to get them for you?

Me: Because this way I have to go through the humiliation of asking you.

SH: OK. But you have to leave [the kitchen] while I get them out.

Marriage 301, Lecture 386: Necessities

SH: But doesn't it bother you to have a strange man doing that? I wouldn't want someone touching my [stuff].

Me: You get used to it. I've been doing it since I was 16. It's what women have to do.

SH: I don't think I could do it.

Me: It's not so bad. We just talked about the Packer game while he did what had to be done.

Civic duty, or, I am just bossy and want to run things

I switched this photo out from a previous post because it fits here better. Dead people vote. At least, they voted in Miami when I lived there. I hear they vote in Chicago as well. I have no doubt they vote in Milwaukee.

Much to my delight, the city clerk called me yesterday to ask if I would work at the polls next Tuesday.

SH informed me that I can't tell people how to vote.

Well duh.

But if someone arrives at the polls without knowing how he's voting, I would tell him not to bother. We have enough people making bad decisions.

I have been on the list for two years, y'all. Two years. That's what kind of neighborhood I live in: a bunch of bossy, involved people. It took two years for me to get to the top of the list.

I tried to volunteer when I lived in Memphis, too, but it also was a long list and I was of the wrong political persuasion when a spot opened. I don't want to get into any political arguments/discussions on this blog, mostly because I get enough of that with SH and also because I don't feel like doing all the research and citing necessary to have a valid exchange of ideas on a public forum, so I won't give you the party specifics. Readers of all opinions and views are welcome here, though. I am nothing if not tolerant of diversity, although I reserve the right to think some ideas are just too dumb to live.

How did I get knocked out in Memphis? Tennessee has open primaries. I had voted in the Polka Dot Party's primary, even though I intended to vote for the Stripe Party candidate in the general election. I voted in the PD primary because they had seven or eight candidates running and most of them were beyond horrible and would have been horrible for the area. It was pretty much a given that the Polka Dots would win the general election, so I wanted to be sure that the least awful candidate was the one they ran.

But when a spot opened at my polling place, my friend Gayle, who was the head polling place lady, told me I couldn't have it because they needed a Striper in that seat.

"But Gayle!" I protested. "You know I am far more striped than I am polka dot!"

"You voted in the Polka Dot primary," she answered.

"Yeah, but you know why I did that!"

She was apologetic but said that the Rules were the Rules.

I don't know if the seats go by affiliation in Wisconsin. I voted in the primary last month, but I have never registered with a party. I am mostly a GDI, I suppose.

It will be an easy job. In Wisconsin, voters can register on the day of the election. They don't have to show proof of citizenship. They don't even have to show ID. [EDIT: Yes, they do have to show ID to register and they also have to affirm they are US citizens.] And they certainly don't have to show ID to vote. Nope. All I have to do is cross names off a list - the name the voter claims is hers - and hand out ballots. Piece of cake.

What I will report on is what people wear to the polls and how informed people seem to be. Watch this space.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Marriage 301, Lecture 429: The shoes justify the dress

Me: I'm going shopping after I get done at the doctor's because I'm showered and dressed decently.

SH: What are you shopping for? You just bought stuff.

Me: I need a dress to go with the [teal leopard print] shoes I bought.

SH: You have dresses.

Me: Nothing that goes with the shoes.

SH: Why did you buy the shoes? You shouldn't buy the shoes if you don't already have the dress.

Me [face of disbelief]: Those are really cool shoes!

SH: But you already have shoes. You already have dresses.

Me: These are fabulous shoes!

SH: You're a gold-digger.

Marriage 301, Lecture 427: The greater good

SH: Where are the cookies? [The chocolate chocolate chip cookies I made on Saturday, most of which went with him to Jon's friend's basement recording studio yesterday where SH made his CD. Along with some beer, of course.]

Me: In the cupboard, behind the grits.

SH: Why are they behind the grits?

Me: So I don't see them every time I open the door and think of them and eat them.

SH: You're hiding them from yourself?

Me: Yes.

SH: That's ridiculous.

Me: Says the man who keeps his Pringles in the basement.

SH: Do you want me to hide them from you?

Me: Yes.

That's normal, isn't it?

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Marriage 301, Lecture 507: What's mine is mine, part 2

Me: You were on my side of the bed last night!

SH: That's because the cats were on my side.

Me: Why didn't you just move the cats?

SH: I didn't want to bother them.

Me: But it's OK to bother me?

SH: Yes.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Marriage 301, Lecture 603: Driving Ms Crazy

SH: I'll be gone when you get back. I'm going to test drive a new car.

Me: We don't need a new car.

SH: But I get a $25 restaurant coupon if I go to the dealer and drive a car.

Me: We can get a coupon for $2 on Is it worth your time and $2 to go 25 miles and then drive a car you're not [I hope] going to buy?

SH: But I like driving new cars.

Me: Please don't buy one.

Marriage 301, Lecture 507: What's mine is mine

Me: I tried to come back to bed this morning, but you were in my space.

SH: No I wasn't.

Me: You were on my side of the bed.

SH: There is no "your side" and "my side" of the bed.

Me: There is so.

SH: Marriage is about togetherness!

Me: Not in bed.

SH: Especially in bed!

Me: Stay off my side of the bed.

Marriage 301, Lecture 426: Turning me to atheism

SH: We thought we were going to have a big pigout in Houston?

Me: Uh huh.

SH: And we didn't. I lost weight.

Me: I hate you.

SH: I hardly drank any beer.

Marriage 301, Lecture 308: All politics all the time

Me: So this woman wants her mother in the delivery room when she has her baby and her husband doesn't. What should she do?

SH: I don't care.

Me: I want your opinion.

SH: This has no relevance in my life. This is a woman's issue. I don't want to talk about it.

Me: How come I'm not allowed to say I don't want to talk about politics?

SH: That's not the same.

Me: I don't want to talk about it with you.

SH: Politics crosses the gender gap. I don't make you talk about cars.

Me: I don't care. I don't want to talk about politics with you, either.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Marriage 301, Lecture 307: Politics makes strange bedfellows

This is not the all-shoes, all-purses, all the time network. Although wouldn't that be nice? This is a place for Deep Thoughts and Serious Commentary about Life. I promise I do not spend all my time buying shoes. Most of the time, I am contemplating the Big Issues: world peace, hunger, global warming. Indeed, SH and I spend a lot (a LOT) of time "discussing" these very things. I have to drag him into the Serious Conversations because he would much rather talk about Friday Night Lights or bacon, but I tell him I need the intellectual stimulation of "discussing" politics and religion with him so I can know why I am so Wrong About Everything. How unenlightened would I be if I didn't have him to tell me?

"Can't we just talk about how we can move back to Texas?" he begs me, but no. I insist.

"Please! Tell me what you think about the Wisconsin gubernatorial race!" I implore. "Please advise me on how I should vote as my opinion is not worthy!"

He hates getting into controversial topics, but he does it for me.

That's amore.

But when we are not having a calm, reasoned, polite "discussion" about politics and when I am not trying to solve all the world's problems by myself, I think about shoes. There is hardly any brain space left for shoes after I get done thinking about the hard things, but I do work it in.

By "work it in," I mean, "Go to the big Divine Consign sale 20 minutes from my house with my friend Julie and spend 90 minutes there sorting through shoes, purses and dresses until I find the perfect shoes, perfect being a flexible definition meaning 'I can squeeze my feet into these size 8s and I'm sure I won't be crying after walking three blocks in them.'"

The next thing I need to do, after contemplating a unified field theory, is work in a trip to the fancy consignment store to find a dress to go with the teal leopard print suede shoes with the tangerine ribbon.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Overheard at the JCC

While my friend Julie and I were shopping for mega bargains at the big consignment sale:

Mom in the bathroom: Do you need to go? I didn't bring any extra pants for you, so if these get wet, we have to go home.

Little girl: I'm wearing a dress.

Mom: The dress doesn't cover you. You have to wear the pants, too.

Little girl: Then you can go home and get me some.

Mom: Um. No.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

White liberal guilt

My sister, her friend and I were walking back to the hotel last night on Michigan Ave at Wacker. We had passed a few beggars but had just smiled politely and kept on our way. One guy asked the traditional, "Can I ask you a question?" a question to which the proper answer is always "No" or no response at all. At least, that's what I learned when I read Paper Moon or whatever the book was from which Tatum and Ryan O'Neal made the movie. The con starts with trying to get you to say yes or to agree to whatever, so the first question is always something it's easy to say yes to.

And they said an English degree was worthless. Ha. Look what I've learned from books: how to avoid a con. Engineers don't learn that.

We had passed a few guys, ignoring their polite, "Can I ask you a question?" but still smiling at them because we are, after all, in the Midwest and we don't just ignore people who speak to us. We might not speak back, but we do acknowledge their existence. We just don't want to give them money. We give through our churches, which have homeless missions, and to other charities. We rest on those laurels.

As I was explaining to Jenny and Angela how we had narrowly missed being sucked into having all our money extracted from us simply by starting with a "yes," a woman approached us outside the Fannie Farmer Chocolates. (Not the Fannie Mae chocolates, as my sister had called them earlier.)

She looked like she had had a hard life: wrinkled, worn, horrible, horrible gray teeth. Two small children stood behind her.

"I'm black but I'm not askin' you for money," she said.

What? Did we have "racists who think black people are beggars and nothing else" tattooed on our foreheads? Why would she presume to say such a thing to us?

We stopped. What do you say to something like that? In retrospect, you roll your eyes and keep on walking, but we had to defend our honor as non-racists.

She continued. "Some man just called me a [n word]!"

Now what were we supposed to say. "OK, I'm sorry there are some jerks in this world and have a nice evening?"


"Me and my kids are trying to get to the battered women's shelter. I'm not askin' for money. I just need a bus pass."

Oh great. This could be legit. Now if we don't help, we'll feel like jerks.

My sister said, "I don't think we can do that" and started to walk away. Smart girl.

"You not going to let my babies stay out all night!" the woman said. "I'm not askin' for money! We just need the bus passes!"

Jen and I looked helplessly at each other. I caved. "How much does a bus pass cost?" I asked.

"Five dollars. Five dollars each. You get them at Walgreen's." She pointed down the block.

Wait a second. I'm not supposed to give her cash because that's not what she's asking for but I'm supposed to walk an entire Chicago city block to stand in line at Walgreen's to buy three bus passes and then come back to give them to her?

I was a little bit suspicious.

"We need to discuss this amongst ourselves," I said, and walked away from the lady.

My sister said, "You can spend the money if you want."

"I don't know. She looks awful," I said. "She's obviously poor. Did you see her teeth?"

Jenny snorted. "Yeah. That's called meth mouth. She's a druggie. And the way her jaw kept moving? She's jonesing."

"Oh!" I felt foolish not to have figured it out. "So we're supposed to give her the cash because we don't feel like walking all the way to Walgreen's or, if we do buy the passes, she'll just re-sell them."

"Yep," said my big-city, has dealt with addicts more than she ever wanted to sister.

"Then no," I said. "Let's get out of here."

As we walked away, one of the little boys ran up to us and told us his momma needed the money. A little salty guilt to rub in the wound.

Next time, I'm going to tell the woman that I would be happy to call CPS so her kids would have a safe, warm place to sleep.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Reasons I miss Texas #2901

As we are going through the security line at IAH.

Security guy: Now I have to look at your driver's license.

Me: I am sorry to subject anyone to that.

SG: It is impossible to have a bad photo of a pretty lady.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Marriage 301, Lecture 439: Eat your vegetables

Our adorable summer tennis teacher, Jane, took this photo. She is on a study abroad program in Spain and writes about it here.

SH: I thought you were going to cut up that pear for me.

Me: It's not ripe.

SH: I guess I'll have to get some potato chips, then.

Me: Oh that's healthful.

SH: They're both from plants!

Chats du jour: CSI

Is this the face of a killer?

Yes. Yes, it is.

It is also the face of a climb on anything that will grab onto cat hair and never let it go, e.g., a navy blue fleece jacket that had a hat on top of it to keep the cat off it but as you can see, the hat did not dissuade our determined shedder.

Laverne has progressed from baby rabbit and mouse killer to baby possum killer. Or, she has tried to become a baby possum killer.

You can see the photos here. They are a bit grisly, so if you are squeamish, don't say you weren't warned.

Of course I take photos of these things. I am a serious news person speaking truth to power. If it bleeds, it leads.

I am trying to figure out how this event happened. There are blood tracks all over the driveway. Actually, I am not sure if they are blood tracks. There is dark, thick residue on the driveway that looks like mud but is in the place where Laverne had the possum. Just how viscous is possum blood, anyhow? I went to The Google to find out, but all I got back was information about vicious possums, which I tend to doubt as isn't the possum strategy when attacked to play dead? That's pacifist, not vicious.

Yet there are those teeth. Those are not exactly herbivore teeth. Which is fine. I am all in favor of defending one's self. None of this, Oh, I'll let you beat me up instead of fighting back because I am the morally superior human being. Nope. I'd rather be tried by 12 than lowered by six, as they say. And we've already established where my morals are, as evidenced by the football ticket story. Now we are merely negotiating price, as it were.


We have here the crime scene. I think those are blood stains. As you are not here to walk out to my new $5,000 driveway with me and examine the stains for yourself, I have marked them with pink arrows, in honor breast cancer month. Why no, Delta flight attendant wearing the pink dress to promote breast cancer awareness, I had never heard of breast cancer before! Thank you for enlightening me! And Caribou Coffee, bless your hearts, no. I do not want to donate $5 for breast cancer on top of my $4.39 coffee purchase. Seriously. Do people fall for that? But I can draw pink arrows. Are you guys aware now? Then I have done my part. You're welcome.

It looks like the fight started in the upper left corner, then proceeded down the driveway, which looked perfect just two months ago and now has possum blood stains on it, which are not covered by our warranty. Why bother spending the money on something like this if it's just going to get ruined?

The possum gave up the fight at the bottom stain. That's where I found Laverne with her prize Wednesday night. The perp. Caught red-handed. Red pawed. The possum was playing dead. Probably exhausted. Lost lots of blood. Yet dragged itself up and away. No possum corpse in the back yard. That does not mean it survived - it might have died in someone else's back yard. Or right behind our garage where I have not looked too closely. I might find a possum skeleton in the spring.

Marriage 301, Lecture 501: Youse are generally doing pretty nice today

SH: You looked really good most of the weekend.

Me: Most?

SH: Well, not when you got up and put on that bathrobe.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Houston 4, or how I began my criminal career

What I did not mention about the game yesterday, which Rice won take that U of H (so what that U of H was without its two starting QBs?) is that I had to go on a special ticket plan to attend.

To wit.

We paid $30 each for the cocktail party at the Rice president's house on Friday. And they didn't even give us forks. It is not easy to eat salmon with a toothpick, although that would be an excellent diet strategy.

We paid $15 each for the BBQ before the game.

We paid $50, yes FIFTY, each for the party last night at the fancy restaurant, La Colombe D'Or, which was how shall we say it? A gorgeous gorgeous location with so so food. I can eat at a fancy restaurant any time, not that I do because I am a darn good cook myself, but I cannot see my college friends any time, and if people are going to skip an event because it's too expensive, then I say let's all meet at Taco Bell and buy our own burritos. I just want to see my classmates.*

Point is. We had already shelled out major bucks.

And then we discovered yesterday at the BBQ that the football tickets, which we had not bought yet because 1. they were not offered on the homecoming website and 2. there has never in the history of Man been a sold-out football game at Rice, cost $35. THIRTY FIVE DOLLARS for a Rice football game.

I'll let you digest that for a little while.

If you don't know anything about college football, I will inform you of this: my four years of college, we won maybe five games. Not a year. In all.

Rice is, to put it delicately, not a football powerhouse and its team, bless its heart, is not a $35 a ticket team.

I had actually been pretty sure we could find someone scalping tickets for below face value. That's how Rice ticket scalpers roll.

But $35?


I could buy 2/3 of a pair of boots for that.

But my friends were going. And they were not planning to attend the $50 not so fancy supper. So it was my only chance to see them.

I dithered. I delayed. They went into the game. SH was talking to his friends. Then Anita called me.

"They didn't scan my ticket. I'll drop it over the wall for you."

I thought about this and the ethical implications for a second. It didn't take long, because there really weren't any.

It's cheating.

But this is the natural result of prices that people perceive to be unfair. It happens with taxes, too. Once tax rates get to be too high, people start cheating and then you actually get less tax revenue. However, I do not wish to discuss politics or tax policy here, so we'll just leave it at unfair but still cheating.

I decided I could live with myself.

I went to the wall where Anita stood. She dropped the ticket. It floated slowly, drifting here and there as the zephyr sent it in zigzags. I reached but could not touch it.

It landed on the hedge next to me.

The hedge that was six feet tall.

I stood on my tiptoes, but could not see it.

"Over there!" Anita yelled and pointed. I couldn't hear her: the generator for the food tent was too loud.

She pointed as I parted the branches and continued to look. I could not see it. She laughed. She pointed. She shook her head and rolled her eyes. "It fell!" she shouted. "It fell!"

I scrambled deep into the hedge, branches scratching me as I pushed. Fortunately, despite the 85 degree heat, I was wearing my denim jacket. Who wants leathery arms? Not I. So I was protected from the wages of sin.

I finally spied it, lying about a foot deep. I grabbed it.

The ring was mine.

And its curse.

* Bless the reunion organizers' hearts. No matter what they do or how hard they work, someone is going to complain.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Houston 3

A last minute win over the University of Houston, making this the second reunion game victory I have seen in the past five years. The 2005 game against Tulane, though, doesn't really count as a victory because we were playing a homeless team whose cheerleaders were on crutches.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Houston 2

A lot has changed since we lived in Houston, but there are still some landmarks. The longhorn armadillo, however, is new.

Houston 1

The Physics Lecture Hall, where my college boyfriend and I spent many happy hours necking. It is also the place where I realized I did not understand what the Physics 101 prof was talking about freshman year - all those funny long "Ss?" What were they? So I switched into self paced physics, which was physics for people who will not be engineers after all, but carried not the shame of academ physics. I did get an A. And I got a B+ in differential equations my sophomore year, but the damage had been done: I changed from from bioengineering with the intent to go to med school and then design bionics to English. What a great career move!

Doorknob to the Physics building.

Other schools hang sports championship banners in their basketball arenas because they have sports championships in their history.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Marriage 301, Lecture 68: Houston we have landed

We got about three hours sleep last night because of the (o)possum drama with Laverne and then worrying about sleeping through the alarm, which I actually did once FOR A BUSINESS TRIP and then the distraction of Shirley trying to lick off her flea treatment, which we gave to both her and Laverne after Laverne had her mouth all over the (o)possum and I realized it had been more than a month since the last time they had been doused.

The alarm went off at 4:15. We got to the airport at 5:30. Boarded the plane for our 6:40 flight.

And sat on the flight line for NINETY MINUTES because of some dumb reverse thruster thingamabob.

Delays happen. I get that. But when your delay means I could have slept an extra NINETY MINUTES and that my whole coffee/eating/peeing plan in the Minneapolis airport is thrown off, then I get a little bit testy.

The restaurant offers a family style meal for "four people and your dog."

However. We got to Houston OK, even a little early, which meant we had to sit in the airport for half an hour or so before we got the car because we didn't want to pay for three days and one hour, which is the same as paying for four days. We are thrifty folk. Plus we had other plans for our money, like CHICKEN FRIED STEAK at Hickory Hollow. That's the delicious food you see above. SH and I split one CFS and got a vegetable plate to go with.

In the South and in Texas, macaroni and cheese is a vegetable. Y'all, that's how we roll.

We still had leftovers, even with our modest order. Fortunately, I had brought tupperware with me. And we had little coolers and freezer packs.

What? You don't travel with this equipment? Then how do you stock up on boudin and Texas cheese, neither of which are to be found in Milwaukee?

The high point of my almost 47 years old day, though, has been that not one, not two but three men have checked me out. Wow. Does this happen in Milwaukee and I don't notice? Or are Texas men smarter? Maybe it's because I am not often to be found in a dress at home. Or makeup. Or with done hair. SH says it might be because my dress is low cut, but I pointed out that there is no there there. He shrugged and said that men still look. I think maybe they are smiling about my fabulous red cowboy boots.

Here there be monsters

We are going to have to stop letting Laverne out (on a harness attached to the clothesline) at night. She likes to hunt, which has not been a problem because up to now, she has picked on animals much smaller than she, such as mice and ground squirrels.

Oh sure there was that baby rabbit last year, but it was a baby rabbit. Rabbits are usually not vicious. And Laverne just picked it up by its neck out of the nest and carried it home, her baby prize. That was when we started putting her on the harness: we couldn't have her wandering the neighborhood, killing the baby rabbits in our neighbors' yards, especially the one neighbor who actually didn't want her rabbits killed. I had polled my other neighbors and we were all in agreement that it was OK for Bill to shoot them and nobody would call the cops.

Last night, though, she moved on to bigger things.

I heard her crying and went out to investigate.

She had a possum in her mouth.

A small possum, but a possum nonetheless.

Have you ever seen a possum up close? They are nasty, primitive looking creatures with viciously sharp teeth.

She dropped it and gave me her "Aren't I a fabulous hunter?" look.

The possum didn't move. There was blood spattered around it. This is the first time I have seen blood on any of her kills.

My stomach turned. I am not a possum fan and I am not sad to see a dead possum, but I am more squeamish than I thought. As in, bloody, sharp toothed corpses are not what I want to deal with.

Fortunately, SH had just gotten home from his trip, so I ran inside and told him he needed to throw away a dead possum.

He gathered several plastic bags and came outside with me. We both regarded the possum with horrified fascination.

It moved.

"It's not dead!" he said.

"Crap," I said. "We have to kill it. It's not going to survive."

We fell silent, contemplating possumcide. SH, definitely, was not eager to kill. I think killing is fine in self defense, but the possum was not an immediate threat. What is the moral rule on a wounded animal?

SH sighed. "I guess I can hit it with a shovel."

We thought about this. I thought about how does one hit a possum hard enough to kill it but softly enough that its brains don't spatter all over our new $5,000 driveway that we got instead of funding our retirement?

The possum moved again. It glared at us. If you have never been glared at by a wounded baby reflecting-eyed possum, then you have never been glared at.

"I don't think it's going to die!" SH said.

"Are you sure?" I asked.

"I think it's OK," he answered. "Let's leave it for a while."

We went back inside and checked Laverne to make sure she didn't have blood on her. We didn't want her tracking possum blood onto the rug.

In 15 minutes, I went back out to check. It was still there, but now it was sitting up. Still glaring. Still ticked off and who can blame it? Its blood was scattered around it like a Jackson Pollock painting. Blood belongs inside the body.

It was gone when we left this morning. The blood was still there. Laverne will not be hunting at night any more. She will have to limit her conquests to diurnal creatures.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Countdown to the 25 year college reunion

And this is why we will never buy meat from the door to door salesman for US Beef: because SH has to look at every single package before he makes a buying decision.

1. Haircut check
2. Hair color check
3. Pedicure check
4. Eyebrow waxing check
5. Lose 20 pounds whatever

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Marriage 301, Lecture 390: Til shopping do us part

What SH wrote to me today (from Boston):

I've been upgraded on three of our four flights to/from Houston, so it's good that you don't care about togetherness. I hope there will be an exception to your rule about grocery-store togetherness being a bad thing while we're in Houston, because I want to go to Central Market. (It's fairly close to Rice, near the Galleria.)

Monday, October 11, 2010

If they don't just let me go to Texas

A tiny bit busy (not really) getting ready to go to Houston on Thursday, where we will either eat or bring home of the following:

Flour tortillas made as one watches, not two states away from the store
Boudin, which, considering the sausage-ness of Wisconsin, should be available here, but is not
Kolaches, which should also be available here as the Czechs didn't go just to Texas, but now that my Slovak grandmother is dead and no longer baking kolaches (or strudel), the closest place to get them is Cedar Rapids and that's too far to drive
Buckets of crawfish, probably at the Ragin' Cajun
Goode Company BBQ
Marinin's empanadas, although we might just have to order those online as we are probably not willing to drive out to Ft Bend county to their new location. It was easier when they were in Montrose.
Texas cheeses. Yeah, yeah, coals to Newcastle. Don't laugh. Have you seen the "Texas" issue of Saveur?
Chicken fried steak
Anything else interesting I can find at Fiesta or Central Market

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Important things I have learned, #829

1. It takes more than a couple of weeks of occasional wearing around the house to break in a pair of orange Sperry topsiders from (Yes, I am all about color in my shoes these days. I am tired of looking drab. Plus now that I am a brunette - Clairol #24 Clove - instead of a fading, graying blonde, I can wear all sorts of things I never did before.)

2. Even if you wear the topsiders to walk to the Mexican restaurant a mile away and then have to walk home barefoot because blisters formed as you were eating your posole and your puerco adobo, the shoes will not be broken in yet.

3. As you will discover three weeks later when you walk the mile to the brew pub in your neighborhood where you and your SH want to use the $10 coupon from the CityTins your friend Claire gave you before it expires. Walking to the restaurant is not such a problem, although maybe topsiders were just never meant for distance walking as that sidewalk seems to hurt more and more. But it's on the walk home that you realize that you now have blisters on the top of your toes.

4. Which is why when you and your SH decide to take advantage of a lovely Indian summer October Saturday the next day to walk to the farmers market, where you will buy cheese you don't need because you already have a cheese drawer in both the fridge and the freezer but sampling is always the death of you, you think, Hey! I'll wear my new red Doc Martens, which are built for comfort.

5. And then you discover that Doc Martens really need to be broken in, as they cause blisters on the heel. Which is why you walk the mile home from the farmers market barefoot.

6. And now you have seven blisters on your feet, which complement the dime-sized blister on your right palm that you got Friday afternoon from planting tulip bulbs. Which means you almost have a set of blister stigmata.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Marriage 301, Lecture 539: Spin city

SH: You know the physics of spin and how it affects how the [tennis] ball goes, right?

Me: No. [That was not covered in Physics 111 and 112, both of which I got an A in, but they were self paced physics without all the funny long Ss and a lot easier than regular physics for people who had had calculus in high school and for which the first test was designed so the mean was a 38, just to knock everyone down a peg]

SH: If you hit the ball this way, it gets topspin and then it blah blah blah. If you hit it this way, it gets backspin, which makes it blah blah blah.

Me: Uh huh. [Return to my book about a woman who makes couture shoes and has an Italian lover who is also her leather supplier but then he breaks up with her so now what?]

SH: So if you hit it this way, the ball blah blah blah, but if you hit it that way, blah blah blah.

Me: Uh huh. [Return to book]

SH: You're not interested in this?

Me: It has nothing to do with my level of ability. [Return to book]

SH: But you need to understand these things if you're going to become a better tennis player!

Me: I'm going to concentrate on just hitting the ball and getting it in every time for now.

Marriage 301, Lecture 290: On the seventh day, she rested

SH: Are you going to make spring rolls for supper?

Me: I don't know. It's a lot of work.

SH: But you got cilantro!

Me: OK, but you have to make the peanut sauce.

SH: I don't know how.

Me: There's a recipe. I have confidence in you.

SH: I thought you liked making things for me.

Me: It's Saturday. I don't want to do that much work.

SH: I thought Sunday was the day of rest.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Marriage 301, Lecture 492: Life in a house that retains cold

SH: Why is it so hot in the bathroom?

Me: I turned the heat on. [We have a heater in the bathroom wall.]

SH: You turned on the heat? It's 79 degrees outside!

Me: I wanted to shave my legs.

Marriage 301, Lecture 931: For worse

What we fight about:

1. Politics
2. Religion
3. Family (not mine and that's all I'll say about that)
4. Why SH is washing dishes instead of getting ready to go to the behind the scenes tour of the Pabst Mansion
5. Why I am nagging SH to hurry the heck up when all he wants to do is to be a dishwashing dawdler for a little while because the rest of his life is deadlines and pressure
6. Why we are late to see "The 25th Annual Putnam Spelling Bee" at the Marquette U theater, which is because SH thought there were still exits from the highway to Wisconsin Ave but those exits no longer exist now that the construction has been completed and because when we came up Calhoun instead, SH didn't know how to get to the theater from Calhoun, which bugged me because I had asked him before we left the house if I needed to draw a little map and he told me no, no, I didn't, and I asked didn't he know where the theater was as opposed to just knowing how to get to it from a certain point and he said that was a dumb way to think about it and I said no it wasn't, it was better to have a map in your head because then you can get to your destination from all points, not just Wisconsin Avenue, and then he didn't want to ask the college girls running ladders how to get to the theater but I have no problem asking for directions so he was lucky to have me with him.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Marriage 301, Lecture 231: Tidy bowls


SH: I got some more toilet bowl cleaner. It was only 99 cents at Menards.

Me: You got more?

SH: Yes. We'll use it eventually.

Me: Do you know how much toilet bowl cleaner we have? Like five years' worth!

SH: So?

Me: What if we have to move before five years?

SH: So we'll move toilet cleaner.

Me: Oh that's a great way to spend money.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Marriage 301, Lecture 952: Seven at one blow

SH: I guess now that I have some new socks, I can get rid of the ones with holes.

Me: Yep.

SH: Hey! There's an odd number of [bad] socks!

Me: [So what?]

SH: That doesn't make any sense!

Me: [So what?]

SH: [thinking]

SH: [thinking]

SH: I guess it doesn't matter if I'm getting rid of them.

Me: Guess not.

Marriage 301, Lecture 402: Progression of an addiction

Day 1: I don't have time to watch a TV series.

Day 4 (after two episodes of Friday Night Lights): Maybe we could watch another episode tonight.

Day 6 (after four episodes): I could drive to the West Allis library (20 minutes from here) tomorrow and get the next five episodes so we don't have to wait for the library to send it to us.


Monday, October 04, 2010

Marriage 301, Lecture 491: You think you don't like Texas but you do

Me: I got the first four episodes of "Friday Night Lights" from the library. Do you want to watch with me?

SH: No. I don't have time to watch a TV show. [Besides, I think Texas is dumb*, even though I went to college there.]

Me: OK. I'll watch by myself. [If you drop dead, I am moving straight back to Texas.]

Me: I watched the first few minutes of the show and it's really good. I think you might like it. How about if you watch a little and if you don't like it, we'll turn it off and then I'll watch by myself later.

SH: Fine.

Me [after the first episode and the player getting paralyzed and everyone in town, including the mayor, telling the coach how to run the game]: Want to watch another episode?


SH: Maybe we could watch more of that show tonight.

The best part about this?

We went through the same exact exercise with Lonesome Dove several years ago. "I don't want to watch a stupid show about cowboys." I convinced him to watch the first episode. We didn't move for the next day and a half as we watched the rest. (I did have an advantage in that I had read the book and knew what a great story it was. That's a stay up past midnight to read book. Not a lot of those. Larry McMurtry, I forgive you for the drivel you have written. Lonesome Dove makes up for it all.)

* Note that SH has never said those exact words. He has never used "dumb" and "Texas" in the same sentence. That I have heard.

Photo sources:

Marriage 301, Lecture 425: Bowling alone

Me: Aren't you coming to bed with me?

SH: No. I have to do some work first. But we already had some together time this weekend. We went to the grocery store together.*

Me: I hate grocery together time.

* SH tricked me into going to the grocery store with him on Friday. We were supposed to play tennis. Oh, wait, he had to stop at Walgreen's first to get a birthday card for his mother. Then we had to drive all the way to the post office to mail it so it would get to her in time because this year, her birthday came earlier than usual and how is a man supposed to plan for that? And as long as we're at the post office, let's stop at Pick 'n Save on the way back to the tennis courts because 5:15 on Friday afternoon is the best time to grocery shop. Why did we have to go to the grocery store? Because SH wanted to use his Pringles coupons! And get half and half, which entailed - you know this - looking at every single carton to make sure we got the freshest one.

I hate going to the store with SH.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Marriage 301. Lecture 319: Crazy talk

SH: I really like this [new] remote. You can do everything with it.

Me: Does that mean we can get rid of the old remotes?

SH: No! Put them aside, maybe, but get rid of? No!

Good ideas #102


Honey. Do you really need to take a Green Bay Packers coffee sippy cup into Mass? Is it truly impossible for you to go an hour without drinking coffee? I know Marty Haugen/Gather music is about as pleasant as a root canal - actually, a root canal is not that bad, I had one a few weeks ago and it was just fine except for keeping my mouth open for 90 minutes, which yes, you would think would be normal for me - but must you medicate yourself to endure it? Jesus was on the cross for three hours* without coffee. Surely you can handle an hour.

My 75 year old uncle owns and runs a commercial riding stables in Colorado Springs. People come from all over to ride his horses, including some Supreme Court justices who were vacationing at the Broadmoor. Actually, I don't think the justices got to ride: the army special forces were training and had first dibs. The Broadmoor wanted my uncle to bump the Green Berets for the justices but my uncle said nope. Who would you want ticked off at you? The Supreme Court or the Green Berets? Neither one is good.

Anyhow. Folks show up for a one-hour ride clutching big bottles of water. My uncle rolls his eyes at this. He doesn't drink water. Milk or beer and not while he is riding. "I'm 75 years old," he says. "And I haven't dehydrated to death yet."

* Let us note for the record, though, that nobody was at his feet singing, "All Are Welcome," which surely would have prompted more than one, "Why have you forsaken me?"